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How to Dispose of (Almost) Everything

If you're in the process of tidying up and organizing your home, you'll probably come across some items you want to get rid of but aren't quite sure how to do so. Here's a look at how to dispose of some of those hard-to-get-rid-of items.

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Mattresses and box springs

If you have an old mattress and box springs in good condition, consider selling it or giving it away for free on a website such as Freecycle, Nextdoor, or Craigslist. If you purchased a new mattress, see if the store will take your old mattress for recycling. You can also check with your local recycling center or garbage disposal service to see what its rules are with old mattresses and box springs. Yet another option is a junk removal company, like 1-800-Got-Junk? Find out the 24 things your garbage collector wants you to know.

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ProductsSebastian Duda/Shutterstock

Cleaning products

When it comes to getting rid of household cleaners, follow label directions. If there are no directions, here’s a rule of thumb, according to the EPA:

  1. If it’s a product that you mix with water, it can be disposed of down the drain with running water.
  2. Solid products, such as scouring pads, can be thrown out in the trash.
  3. For products such as oven cleaners and furniture polish, call the toll-free number on the label and ask.

You can also check with your local waste disposal facility if you’re unsure about a certain product.

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Batteries Syda Productions/Shutterstock


Battery maker Duracell notes that if you live in an area with a recycling or collection program, you should contact it about its rules for battery recycling. Never dispose of large numbers of batteries at one time, and don’t mix batteries with other recyclable items. Here’s the proper way to get rid of 12 hazardous household items safely.

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Never flush unused medications down the toilet. To get rid of unwanted or unused medications, the FDA recommends looking for local disposal options. Many communities periodically offer take-back events that allow you to drop off medications that officials will safely dispose of. Some cities and pharmacies also have fixed drop-box locations. To find an authorized collector in your community, visit Find out about 15 more things you should never, ever put down a garbage disposal.

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Want to get rid rid of those old tires? Call your local auto shop first and see if they are worth taking in to be retreaded or repaired. If you are getting new tires at a tire shop, see if they will recycle your old ones for you. Earth911 says that if you plan to recycle the tires yourself, remove the rim and wheel weights; these are both made of metals you can recycle as scrap.

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Millions of people in low- and middle-income countries don’t have access to basic health services, including eye care, according to the World Health Organization. If you have old eyeglasses to get rid of, contact your local Lions Club. The organization collects eyeglasses and gets them to people around the world who need them. You’ll likely be able to find a drop-off location not far from where you live.

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dfh2_shutterstock_94804468 home appliance repair stove oven ewasteGemenacom/Shutterstock

Old appliances

If you’re buying new appliances, see if the retailer will take your old ones to be recycled. Many donation centers, such as Habitat for Humanity ReStores, will also take appliances that are in working condition. If they aren’t in working condition, check with your waste hauler to see if it offers special pick-up services or if the appliances can be recycled curbside. Check out this warning from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about the danger to children from freezers, clothes dryers, refrigerators and other household items; you might have to remove the door before getting rid of the appliance. Here are additional tips for getting rid of old appliances.

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motor oilrawcapPhoto/Shutterstock

Used motor oil

Used motor oil is illegal to throw in the trash! Take your used oil to an oil change facility that accepts it or to a household waste recycling facility near you. Whichever option you choose, it’s always a good idea to call ahead first to make sure the facility is currently accepting used motor oil, according to Mobil. Find out some more things you didn’t know it was illegal to throw away.

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Old electronics

Call your local recycling center to see what the rules are regarding old electronics. Call2Recycle is a helpful website that allows you to find drop-off locations by just entering your ZIP code. Check with your local senior center or other donation centers to see if they are in need of older but still usable computers, televisions, or DVD players.

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Building supplies

If you’re doing a home improvement project and have leftover building supplies or materials in good condition, donate them to a Habitat for Humanity ReStores outlet. Proceeds from these items help fund Habitat for Humanity homes. If there isn’t a ReStore location near you, there may be a local charity that could use the supplies, or you could sell them or offer them for free on Freecycle, Nextdoor or Craigslist. Check out these other great organizations that offer to pick up items you don’t want anymore.

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LinensWhite Space Ukraine/Shutterstock

Old linens

Used linens, including towels, blankets, and sheets, are often put to good use at animal shelters and Animal Humane Society locations. Check with your local animal shelter to see if your old linens can be donated.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.